What's My Home Worth?
I was getting ready to submit an article titled "Researching the Perfect Neighborhood" when I received my 12th call in six days asking, "Hey Chris, I just received my 2012 Proposed Value Notice from the County. Can you help me?"
By now most of us have received this mailing stating the old County Value on our property and suggesting the new Proposed Value. Some of us went up, some of us went down. So this begs the question, "What's My Home Really Worth?"
It is easy to say that yours is worth more or less because of a recent sale down the street. However, it is important to do more research than just looking at a few recent sales on your street. To do a true comparison you should look at several criteria and compare apples to apples:
*Similar Sized Homes. If your home is 1500 sqare feet of above-grade living space, then look at homes just smaller and just larger.
*Similar number of bedrooms. If you have a 3 bedroom home it does no good to use a 2 or 5 bedroom home as a comparable.
*Similar number of baths. A 1500-square-foot 3-bedroom colonial with one full and one half bath is more valuable than one with just a full bath.
*Style of Home. If at all possible, you should compare colonials to colonials, bungalows to bungalows, and ranches to ranches.
*Quality & Condition. This is the hard part. Most of us, the County included, have rarely been in all of the sold comparables. This is where having a relationship with a professional real estate agent is helpful. The best agents tour the entire new inventory weekly, giving them firsthand knowledge of quality and condition.
*Similar Location. It is always better to use comparables that are closer to your home. However, it may be necessary from time to time to stray from to a larger geographic area in order to provide enough quality comparables. This was especially true, and necessary, when the market was extremely slow and the number of sales was depressed.
*Miscellaneous Details. This is a catch-all category for items such as 1-car vs. 2-car garage, finished basement, or walk-up 3rd floor. And don't forget Seller Concessions. Is the publicly stated Sales Price the true sales price? Perhaps the seller credited the buyer $5,000 for closing costs so the true sales price can be adjusted from $150,000 to $145,000. Once again, your trusted real estate agent can help find these extra details to help drill down to a fair and accurate value.
As you can see, there is more to determining your home value than by just looking at a few sales on your street. You can start the process by checking market activity for your neighborhood at www.HomeValuesInLakewood.Info. This will provide a starting point for your research and get you on your way to determining the value of your home.
Chris Bergin is a licensed real estate agent with Prudential Lucien Realty in Lakewood.